Ani DiFranco: “Binary” @ Talks at Google (Transcript)

[MUSIC PLAYING] MATTHEW HENDERSHOT: Please join me in welcoming, along with her daughter Petah, Ani DiFranco [APPLAUSE] ANI DIFRANCO: Hello, hello

Thanks All right, the mother ship, pretty cool Oh, what’s happening to me– technical difficulties We’ll just leave it like that You want to sing a tune? This is not from my latest record

This is just a song that Pia and I like to sing together [MUSIC, ANI AND PETAH DIFRANCO] [APPLAUSE] Alright Thank you Never play a guitar twice They get dirty

So that was what I was thinking when we’re singing that song, that second verse, have you felt the longing in a seed? That’s you You’re the seed that I was writing about And now you’re here singing with me And this is a song that I wrote for Petah’s daddy [MUSIC, ANI DIFRANCO AND PETAH DIFRANCO] [APPLAUSE] All right, thank you

MATTHEW HENDERSHOT: Please, another round of applause, Ani DiFranco and Petah DiFranco [APPLAUSE] I want to thank you so much Thank you for the beautiful performance and thank you for taking the time to come and visit with us here in New York I know you have a lifelong history here in New York But having relocated, you’ve been spending a lot of time back up here

You were up here a few months ago to receive a Lifetime Achievement Award Is that correct? ANI DIFRANCO: Right, yes, one of those That’s always good Now I can die MATTHEW HENDERSHOT: It was really the award of a lifetime is what I’m understanding from your reaction

ANI DIFRANCO: Yeah no, that’s cool I love coming back to New York I do I do I used to miss it like a person after I left

And now I just like to visit Like we were talking about, we were talking all morning off mic, so now we get to talk into mics But yeah, now the whole pace of New York and just the circus of it, I’m like wow, cool, got to go MATTHEW HENDERSHOT: Well you’re here now for kind of a wild event, supporting Cindy Lauper and the True Colors foundation ANI DIFRANCO: Yeah, a benefit to help an organization that tries to get homeless queer youth a place to be and people to support them

MATTHEW HENDERSHOT: It brings me to the first topic that I wanted to discuss with you which is, all of these things speak to a career of proactivity Looking back through the years, you have always been at the pointed end of the proactive stick And I find that interesting in the fact that a lot of artists are very reactive An event would take place and there’s a response to it or a tribute to some tragedy or some sort of reaction based And I’m curious if you can speak about what it’s been like to always be in that proactive space instead of just a simple reactive space? ANI DIFRANCO: Wow, I dig it

I dig the whole pointed end of the stick I mean, yeah, jeez I mean I guess like anybody I’ve just been trying to speak my truth, my experience, my thoughts, my dreams, my perception in my songs, in my writing And I guess personally I’m always compelled by art that takes risks, you know? So I’ve always kind of pushed myself It used to be really hard to be that in the beginning

You know, I used to, oh jeez, who’s going to be at the show tonight? And no, my mom, or [INAUDIBLE]? And what will happen when I say this? And a lot happens when you’re jabbing at stuff But I would say that the most important thing that happened over the years was that people came out of nowhere and said me too or thank you, oh my God And all of that, hearing people repeatedly say I can’t believe you just said that, thank you, just meant so much more than all the rest So it’s kind of encouraged me to just let it go, all those ideas of what’s private or personal or inappropriate or this or the other It’s like, it’s all universal

It’s, none of it’s unique MATTHEW HENDERSHOT: It’s curious that you said it used to be more difficult for you because I would almost think that now is a time period of difficulty for anyone being proactive There’s so much tension and so much pushback to any push that is there Does that weigh in at all when you’re about to step up and make a bold statement of like– you said before it was the idea of oh, my mom’s in the audience, I don’t want to run afoul of that But now some fraction of the world might be

ANI DIFRANCO: There’s others in the audience that are even more dangerous than mothers I mean, I feel like it was really good to just come out of the box with my mouth and spirit open and just start I mean when I was a teenager and I started making my own songs, I started pushing against that wall of acceptability and what you can and cannot say and can and cannot be And really early on I just was like, F it Just what’s going to happen to me? Let’s find out

And 25, whatever it’s been, 30 years later, I’m in a great position now I mean, I weeded out the riffraff a long time ago I think it’s much more difficult if you have a secret to let it go If you’ve never had secrets, it’s easier It’s better

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